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Saturday, 30 March 2019

Panch Phoran Tarkari From Mizoram

Panch Phoran Tarkari is a scrumptious mixed vegetable dish seasoned with a special five-seed blend , the Panch Phoran. This is a simple and comforting yet flavorful one-pot dish from the North -Eastern Indian state of Mizoram. In Mizo Cuisine Panch Phoran tarkari can be prepared in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian way. Here I have made a vegetarian onion-garlic free version which uses potatoes, pumpkin and brinjal. The non-vegetarian version is mostly made using chicken. This aromatic and flavorful sabji or tarkari is basically a mildly spicy dry vegetable dish which can be served as appetizer or as a side dish with rice or poori. Goes well in lunch box as well. The recipe is very simple and easy to follow and the dish is ready under 20 minutes.


Panch Phoran is a whole spice blend, originating from the Indian subcontinent, used especially in the cuisine of Eastern India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The 5 spices used in Panch Phoran are seeds. Typically Panch Phoran consists of fenugreek seeds, nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed in equal parts. Unlike most spice mixes, panch phoran is always used whole and never ground. Traditionally panch phoran is used with vegetables, lentils, chicken or mutton curry, fish, shukto(a mix of cooked vegetables topped with a coconut sauce) and in pickles. When added to the mustard oil or ghee tempering, it lends a strong flavor and aroma to the dish.

Mizoram is a beautiful North-Eastern Indian state with Aizwal as its capital city. The word Mizoram can be split as Mizo which is the name of its native inhabitants and ram means land, so Mizoram is  "the land of the Mizos". Mizoram has the highest concentration of tribal people among all states in India. One of the seven sisters, Mizoram is blessed with mesmerizing natural beauty and pleasant climate. Mizo cuisine is the traditional cuisine of the Mizo people. Like most states of North east region, rice is the staple food of Mizoram and the Mizos love to add non-vegetarian ingredients in every dish. Fish, chicken, pork, and beef are popular meats among Mizos. They love to eat boiled veggies with rice. Food is mostly cooked in mustard oil with very little spices levels and plenty of vegetables and typically served on fresh banana leaf. Some of the popular dishes of this cuisine are Koat Pitha (fried fritter with rice flour and jaggery), Misa Mach Poora (grilled Shrimp dish), Panch Phoran Tarkari (one of the most popular dish with special five-seed seasoning), Mizo Vawksa ( smoked pork dish), Chhum Han ( vegetarian dish with mixed steamed vegetables), Hmarcha rawt ( a spicy green chili chutney), Bai ( steamed vegetables with pork). Apart from these delicacies, Zu is the local tea which is a part of every meal in Mizoram. Lubrusca grape wine is another favorite among locals.


It is month end and the time when I post for the  Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge Facebook group. For the month of Marc,h we are on our virtual trip to the beautiful North-Eastern Mizoram state of India. My partner for this month is Priya Mahesh who blogs  @200deg.com. She thoughtfully gave me nigella seeds and fennel seeds, a part of panch phoran as my two secret ingredients and i cooked this flavorful panch phoran tarkari from Mizo cuisine using it. In retur, I gave her oil and rice flour and she made the popular sweet fritters, the Kaot Pitha. meanwhile, do check out her blog for some interesting recipes from around the globe and lovely bakes.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

  • 150 grams Pumpkin , peeled and diced
  • 2 large potatoes , peeled and diced
  • 1 large or 3 small brinjal, diced
  • 2 green chilies slit
  • 2 red chilies , broken
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon 5-spice mix / Panch Phoran*
  • 2 tablespoon mustard oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold milk
  • Salt to taste
* To make the Panch Phoran, take equal quantity of Cumin seeds (jeera), Mustard Seeds (Rai), Nigella seeds (onion seeds or kalonji), fennel seeds (saunf) and Fenugreek seeds (methi dana) and mix them together. Use 1 teaspoon of this spice blend as seasoning)

  1. Heat a sauce pan. Add oil to it. Once the oil is hot, lower the flame and add the bay leaf followed by the 5 spice mix (Panch Phoran). Let the seeds crackle. Next tip in red and green chilies and fry for about 30 seconds.

2. To this seasoning add the diced veggies and stir fry for 2-3 minutes on medium flame.

3. Next add turmeric powder, salt and sugar and mix everything well.

4. Lastly, add the milk , give a quick stir and cover cook for 5-7 minutes or until the veggies are cooked well. Keep stirring occasionally to avoid the veggies sticking to  the bottom of the pan. Once all the moisture is evaporated and the veggies are done, put off the flame.

 5. Serve the delicious Panch Phoran Tarkari with poori or rice and enjoy the flavors !

 Recipe Notes:
  • To make the Panch Phoran, take equal quantity of Cumin seeds (jeera), Mustard Seeds (Rai), Nigella seeds (onion seeds or kalonji), fennel seeds (saunf) and Fenugreek seeds (methi dana) and mix them together. Use 1 teaspoon of this spice blend as seasoning).
  • Adjust the amount of green and red chilies as per your spice tolerance.
  • Add cold milk or else there are chances of milk splitting.
  • Try to dice all the veggies to same size pieces for even cooking.
  • You may use any cooking oil if you are not used to the strong flavors of mustard oil.
  • Vegans can simply skip the milk and sprinkle some water instead.
Linking this flavorful Panch Phoran Tarkari recipe to the Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge group where the theme for the month is Mizoram Cuisine. 

Ssshhh Cooking Secretly

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    1. This looks so very good! I love using panch phoron to temper my sabzis, and I'm sure I would like this version too. :) Great recipe, Poonam!

    2. A very colorful and flavorful sabji. Love panch phoron so am sure it tasted amazing.

    3. Awsome presentation and very clearly explained

    4. Love the wholesome mixed vegetable dish that is flavoured with the 5 spice or panch phoran. Adds a whole new element. The bowl has all my favourite sabzis so I can't wait to try this and dig into the bowl.

    5. So many vegetables used in this sabzi..yumm. Loved the orange colour from the pumpkin too. Also panch phoran with mustard oil would take the sabzi to a different level

    6. Pumpkin, potatoes and brinjal - I have never tried this combination. This dish looks so flavourful with the Panch phoran spices. Definitely a must try recipe.

    7. Panch Phoran has this way of elevating any dish with its wonderful aromas. Used in this hearty veg dish, it will help me meet my diet goals in a delicious way.

    8. Panch phoran adds so much taste to the dish. I did crush and add, but I liked your version too of adding it directly. Beautiful pics.

    9. As an Odia, we love panch phoron to temper most of our dishes. I am sure you have thoroughly enjoyed this sabzi.

    10. wow,can't wait to try this Panch Phoran,it looks very delicious.Lovely share!

    11. It must be so flavourful with the addition of panch phoron........